Out at sea

Anna is a young girl who suffers from the loss of her father out at sea. She tries to cope with everyday life: helping her single mother and younger brother Benji to make the most of life, though it all gets too much. With the stress and anxiety of moving schools, Anna is anything but fine. Her long trips up to the beach are tiring, but they're worth it when she gets to look out and imagine her Dad beside her. But everything seems to result in tears, and Anna realises she's stayed strong for too long.


10. The Truth

"You do?" Colton asks, laughing. "What a suprise! You like paddling in the sea."

I manage to laugh with him as we stroll along the tideline.

"Hey, why don't we do it now?" He asks, undoing the laces on his school shoes. Wow. That sounded wrong.

"Err..." I smile uneasily, but seeing Colton jump into the waves is just too tempting. I undo my own laces and pull off my socks before following. The occasional pebble pinches my feet as I walk along the sand towards the sea. My toes are just centimetres from the water, but I'm too scared to go straight in. Especially after what happed to my Dad. It's been a long time since I've been here.

"Come on!" I hear Colton shout. Looking over to him I realise he's really far into the water, pulling up his soaking wet trousers up to his tanned knees. After realising I'm still not coming in, he gazes over to me, with his stunning blue-green eyes. He's still looking at me, his back to the waves and I'm so mesmerized by his eyes that I don't notice a massive wave forming meters behind him.

"Watch out!" I cry, but it's too late. He's already engulfed by the wave, completely surrounded by cold salty water. I wait a second, but I still don't see him coming out the water. Colton's still under, or that's what I think. And it's then that I realise, I don't have a choice. I'm coming in.

I pull up my skirt half-way up my thighs and run as fast as I can towards where I think he went. The water is numbing my legs, but that only makes me more determined to find Colton, as his whole body must be that cold. When I get to where he last was, I think it's really not that deep- only up to my knees. It can't be that hard to find him at this depth, and especially when the water's as clear as it is. I search around, but my only company is a school of these tiny silver fish and a baby crab. I'm just about to get in further when I hear a voice behind me. Colton?

Spinning around, with great relief I see him, a huge smile on his what I now find completely dry face. I thought he was copletely underwater! But looking down, his whole body up to his neck is wet, the water drenched through his clothes, making his white school shirt slightly see-through. 'Wow' I think.

"I knew you'd come in" Colton smiles. I don't know whether to be incredibly angry with him for not revealing himself earlier, or incredibly relieved that he's not dead. Yes, I know that seems like I'm over-reacting, but no. My father died out at sea. And from the moment I heard he was gone, I knew going to the beach was never going to be the same again.

"Colton!" I cry, running over to him, and wanting so bad to hug him, but in the end I gently slap him on the shoulder.

"What was that for!?" He asks in the typical jokey voice, rubbing his shoulder.

"Oh, I'm sorry." I blush, even though I know I didn't hurt him. "Well, you should have showed yourself to me earlier. I was worried..."

"Worried? Why, the wave was only small, it didn't even get up to my neck."

I raise my eyebrows. "You call that small?"

Colton shrugs, and tells me that he actually surfs out here. Every weekend, as long as it's not too cold. Coincidently just like my father used to, when he'd go out in his yacht. I try not to appear scared as he says 'You should really try it some time', but eventually the conversation changes to other things, like home, which at least is not so uncomforatble. We're no longer right by the sea, but sitting on a bench overlooking it while our clothes dry. It takes a while for me to realise it's the same bench I used to sit at when my father was out in his yacht, with the same stone balancing by the edge of it.

I talk about Benji and him about his older sister Freya, but then he asks about my parents. This is the topic I feel like I can't lie about. If I say I still have my Dad he'll maybe expect to see him someday, if I say my parents are divorced he'll maybe ask me when I see the other parent or where they live, and my only option is to tell him the truth. The complete truth.

So, I tell him. Everything. I watch his face as he listens intently. And he doesn't ask questions, apologize like most people would. He just listens. And I like it that way. When people ask questions and apologize it just makes things uncomfortable, and you know that they're right when they say how your life must be hard or whatever, but you have to deny to avoid them feeling so sorry for you. I've only ever told one other person the truth and that's Ruby, but as I tell Colton, every detail of my life, I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders, off my heart, and tossed right into the depths of the deep blue sea.

We walk side by side down the promenade, hotdog wrappers scrunched up in one hand and melting strawberry ice creams in the other. The sun is setting over the sea, making the sky a rainbow of pinks and oranges and yellows. I can't help but imagine the silouettes of Colton and I against the sunset, holding hands and leaning in for a romantic kiss. The perfect scene.

I do try not to get my hopes up though, it is only our first date. Ruby was telling me that on a first date, kissing is not necessary but is fine when or if the moment is right. Sometimes I wonder how she knows all this, she seems to know everything about dating and boys inside and out. But it's not like it sounds, I know she's not like the other girls who have already been on hundreds of dates. Maybe she's just guessing. Though she did say she had a boyfriend before at her last school, but like me she moves around a lot and had to leave him when she changed schools. Apparently they still text sometimes, so therefore she doesn't know if they're actually still together and if she would even be allowed to go on a date with another boy. But even if she is allowed, she's not sure anyone here catches her eye who's not already taken.

My thoughts stop as I feel a drop of rain fall on my head. Colton is still there next to me, holding my hand which is a suprise because I didn't even notice. He says he would offer me his coat like in cheesy love films if he hadn't left it at school. I laugh, then realise Colton's stopped walking and I do the same. He turns to face me.

"I think this is your house." He says softly.

I look around and realise. "Yes, yes it is... how did you know?"

"Well I wasn't stalking you if that's what you were thinking. I live on the street back there and saw you walking to school one day, with Benji I think."

"Oh, you should have said Colton, you should have let me walk back myself, you don't have to walk me home you know!" I say guiltily, knowing now Colton will have to walk back where we just were in the rain.

"No, really Anna it's fine. I wanted to." He puts a reassuring hand on my shoulder.

"Woah, how did your hands get so warm?" I ask, knowing only too late that this sounds really strange, and I already know the answer.

Colton laughs. "It's your hands that are warm...We were holding hands, if you hadn't noticed."

He smiles cheekily but kindly, and for a minute we stay silent, just looking into each other's eyes. His hand is still on my shoulder, and he leans into me, slowly. I know what is going to happen next, but this is the one thing I couldn't practise with Ruby. My heart is beating in my chest, the butterflies are fluttering in my stomach, my brain has stopped thinking for the moment, my hands are holding around his body, my eyes are closing, my lips are parted, and our lips are now together.

It is the most amazing feeling, though not as I had expected. I can taste the salt from the sea, ketchup and mustard from the hotdog, and strawberries from the ice cream. Not the best combination you would think, but for me, this is good enough. This is perfect.



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